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Legislation to Ban Children's Products Defeated in
California, Maryland and Minnesota

April 12, 2006

Summary

Recent bills in California, Maryland and Minnesota proposed to ban children's products that contained any level of bisphenol A. Each bill would have prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution in commerce of a wide range of toys or childcare articles intended for use by a child under three years of age, including many products that enhance the health and safety of children. The proposals ignored the views of government and scientific bodies worldwide that, based on comprehensive reviews of the scientific evidence, bisphenol A is not a risk to human health. None of the bills became law.

What Was the Proposed Legislation About?

In 2005, a bill was introduced into the California State legislature to ban children's products that contain bisphenol A or certain phthalates. The bill, known as Assembly Bill Number 319 or AB 319, would have prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution in commerce of any toy or childcare article intended for use by a child under three years of age if that product contained any level of bisphenol A. The legislation also contained similar provisions for children's products that contained certain phthalates.

In regard to bisphenol A, the bill potentially would have banned an extraordinarily wide range of consumer products, many of which depend on the unique attributes of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins to enhance the health and safety of children. For example, life-saving medical devices (e.g., incubators, kidney dialyzers, blood oxygenators, and drug infusion units), sports safety equipment (e.g., bicycle helmets, visors), healthcare products (e.g., eyeglass lenses, dental sealants), shatter-resistant baby bottles, and canned foods and beverages all are beneficially used by or for children and might have been banned by this legislation.

In early 2006, very similar bills were introduced into the Maryland and Minnesota State legislatures. The provisions of these bills, known as Maryland House Bill Number 52 (HB 52) and Minnesota Senate File Number 3379 (SF 3379), were virtually identical to the provisions of AB 319 and would have banned an equally wide range of important products.

What Was the Basis for the Legislation?

The stated basis for the California legislation was that bisphenol A is an "estrogen-mimicking endocrine disruptor chemical" that has been "shown to have hormone disrupting effects." However, the scientific basis provided by the sponsor of the bill was very limited and misleading, and ignored the views of scientific experts that have thoroughly reviewed bisphenol A.

The scientific evidence supporting the safety of BPA has been repeatedly examined by government and scientific bodies worldwide. Included are recent comprehensive reviews by government bodies in Europe (1, 2, 3) and Japan (4) as well as by a panel of scientific experts organized under the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.(5) In every case, these reviews support the conclusion that bisphenol A is not a risk to human health at the low levels found in consumer products.

In their written input to the California legislators on food contact uses of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins,(6) the US Food and Drug Administration stated "based on all the evidence available to us at this time, FDA sees no reason to change its long-held position that current uses with food are safe" and "considering all the evidence…FDA sees no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict the uses now in practice."

The views of FDA are consistent with the views of regulatory bodies worldwide, none of which have banned or restricted bisphenol A, polycarbonate plastic or epoxy resins, in particular for use of these materials in food contact or children's products.

What Happened to the Legislation?

The legislators in California, Maryland and Minnesota found no compelling reason to support the bills and, in each state, the bills were not approved.

  • California: Bisphenol A was completely removed from AB 319 in January 2006 and the remaining bill, focused on phthalates, was not approved by the Assembly committee that was reviewing the bill.
  • Minnesota: SF 3379 died when no action was taken by the deadline for committee action in March 2006.
  • Maryland: HB 52 died when no action was taken by the end of the legislative session in April 2006.


 


1. A summary of a European risk assessment is available at http://ecb.jrc.it/DOCUMENTS/Existing-Chemicals/RISK_ASSESSMENT/SUMMARY/bisphenolasum325.pdf and the full risk assessment document is at http://ecb.jrc.it/DOCUMENTS/Existing-Chemicals/RISK_ASSESSMENT/REPORT/bisphenolareport325.pdf.
2. See http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/pdfs/CEFIC_CSTEE.pdf for a discussion on the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment review of the European risk assessment, and http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/sct/documents/out156_en.pdf for the complete CSTEE assessment on human health.
3. See http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/20020715EuropeanCommission.html for a discussion on the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food assessment of bisphenol A, and http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scf/out128_en.pdf for the complete assessment.
4. See http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/20060320.html for a discussion on a Japanese risk assessment.
5. See http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/20040903Harvard.html for a summary of a weight of evidence evaluation on bisphenol A conducted by a scientific panel under the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.
6. Letter from FDA in response to a request from a member of the California Assembly for input on AB 319. November 28, 2005.


   
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